A variation of a sport that’s banned in Missouri today might come up for legalization in next year’s Legislature. Mixed Martial Arts is an outgrowth of the Toughman Contests of the 1990s. Toughman contests were “anything goes” events that became infamous for their brutality, serious injuiries and occasional deaths. Missouri banned them in 1996. Originators of the Extreme Fighting events have toned things down, adopted rules, and are now seeing a mix of boxing, wresting, grappling, and martial arts skills that is rapidly growing in popularity. The head of the State Boxing Commission, Tim Lueckenhoff, says it’s time to legalize Mixed Martial Arts so the state can regulate it. He says the problem is that fighters who work as professionals in other states sometimes appear in Missouri as amateurs. That’s the kind of thing Lueckenhoff thinks should be regulated. He does not want to eliminate the ban on the more violent Toughman events, but he does want to regulate the cleaned-up descendants of them – Mixed Martial Arts. He admits he’ll have a touch time educating people about the differences, and he knows some people still think the cleaned-up versions are far too violent.
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